Happy Friday, everyone. It’s cold out there, so pour yourself a cup of Joe and join us for your morning primer.
1. John Glenn, American hero, RIP.
The first man to orbit the Earth—not to mentioned a Marine Corps combat vet, U.S. senator from Ohio, and 1984 presidential candidate—died yesterday at the age of ninety-five. From The New York Times obit, which is worth reading in its entirety:
In just five hours on Feb. 20, 1962, Mr. Glenn joined a select roster of Americans whose feats have seized the country’s imagination and come to embody a moment in its history, figures like Lewis and Clark, the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh.
To the America of the 1960s, Mr. Glenn was a clean-cut, good-natured, well-grounded Midwesterner, raised in Presbyterian rectitude, nurtured in patriotism and tested in war, who stepped forward to risk the unknown and succeeded spectacularly, lifting his country’s morale and restoring its self-confidence.
It was an anxious nation that watched and listened that February morning, as Mr. Glenn, 40 years old, a Marine Corps test pilot and one of the seven original American astronauts, climbed into Friendship 7, the tiny Mercury capsule atop an Atlas rocket rising from the concrete flats of Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The Cold War had long stoked fears of nuclear destruction, and the Russians seemed to be winning the contest with their unsettling ascent into outer space. Two Russians, Yuri A. Gagarin and Gherman S. Titov, had already orbited Earth the year before, overshadowing the feats of two Americans, Alan B. Shepard and Virgil I. Grissom, who had been launched only to the fringes of space.
What, people asked with rising urgency, had happened to the United States’ vaunted technology and can-do spirit?
The answer came at 9:47 a.m. Eastern time, when after weeks of delays the rocket achieved liftoff. It was a short flight, just three orbits. But when Mr. Glenn was safely back, flashing the world a triumphant grin, doubts were replaced by a broad, new faith that the United States could indeed hold its own against the Soviet Union in the Cold War and might someday prevail.
If you are wondering why Glenn couldn’t ride that wave of deserved acclaim to the White House, the answer is that, while his colleagues in the Senate described him as a diligent workhorse, he was less than inspiring on the stump. As the Times puts it: “He drew admiring audiences in his run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, but his wooden speaking style and lack of a cogent campaign message were blamed for his poor showing at the polls.”
Here is a commercial his campaign released:
2. Can Bull Durham explain Donald Trump’s governing style?
In POLITICOMagazine, Michael Grunwald poses the question:
If you’re looking for a generous interpretation of why Donald Trump launches some of his more outlandish attacks—ripping Megyn Kelly over her menstrual cycle, threatening a military strike over a rude gesture by an Iranian seaman, trashing an obscure union rep on Twitter—you should watch the awesome throw-it-at-the-bull scene from the iconic more-than-baseball movie Bull Durham.
At the start of the scene, Nuke LaLoosh, the phenomenally talented but spectacularly undisciplined young Durham Bulls pitcher played by Tim Robbins, has tamed his persistent wild streak and is suddenly mowing down hitters with pinpoint control. Crash Davis, the wise, grizzled veteran catcher played by Kevin Costner, then walks out to the mound and instructs Nuke to hit the team mascot with his next pitch.
“Why?” Nuke asks. “I’m finally throwing it where I want to throw it.”
“Just throw it at the bull,” Crash tells him. “Trust me.”
So goofy Nuke nails the mascot, who crumples to the ground with a pitiful moan, seriously unnerving the opposing batter. “That guy’s crazy!” he wails to Crash.
“Yep!” Crash replies with delight. “I wouldn’t dig in there if I were you. The next one might be at your head. I don’t know where it’s going to go.”
I remain skeptical that Trump is possessed with anything approaching this kind of foresight and strategy.
3. What’s new in Trumpland today?
The Trump transition has banned the Women’s March on Washington from using the National Mall, including the Lincoln Memorial.
The Lincoln Memorial has been the site for many of the United States’ most historic rallies, from the civil rights and anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s to the Million Man March in 1995. However, for the thousands of women planning to march on Washington following Donald Trump’s inauguration, the D.C, landmark won’t be available for rallying.
According to The Guardian, the National Park Service, on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, has blocked access to the landmark by filing a “massive omnibus blocking permit.” This will bar protesters from most of the National Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and of course, the Lincoln Memorial for days and weeks before, during, and after the inauguration, which will take place on Jan. 20, 2017.
Trump’s choice for labor secretary—a fast-food exec who has opposed worker-protection regulations and an increased minimum wage—has also been accused of wife-beating (so has his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon). In a divorce filing, his ex-wife cited three incidents of alleged violence.
The second was in 1985, when Henning said Puzder punched her while they were driving home together. Puzder said he recalled “no such incident” but did remember hitting a curb, which he said, “had to do with the liquid refreshment we had with our dinner more than anything else.”
In keeping with his unorthodox style, Donald Trump will be the first U.S. president in a lot of ways.
He’ll be the first commander-in-chief to be a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. He’ll be the first president with his own line of vodka. And, according to media reports on Thursday, he’ll be the first president to executive produce a reality TV show while in office.
Variety broke the news that Trump, who rose to fame thanks in part to his stints on the reality TV shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” will continue to serve as executive producer of “The New Celebrity Apprentice” when it comes back on NBC this January after a two-year hiatus.
The new iteration of the show, which will be hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is just the latest in a series of business ventures Trump is involved in that has raised questions about potential conflicts of interest when he takes office.
Among those questions: Comcast—which owns NBC, which airs Celebrity Apprentice and will be paying Trump $10,000 per episode for his “services” as executive producer—is a giant corporation that has, at any given moment, regulatory issues before the federal government (including last year’s failed merger with Time Warner), which Trump will soon run. It will soon, quite literally, have Trump on its payroll.
Finally, while only 40 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s transition choices and 54 percent say he hasn’t done enough to distance himself from white nationalists, he has seen an uptick in optimism about his presidency.
Despite the negative view of Trump’s transition, Americans surveyed by Pew seemed more optimistic about his presidency looking forward than they did during the campaign.
In the poll, 35 percent of Americans said they think Trump will be a great or good president, compared to the 25 percent who thought so in October. In the same time period, the number of people who said they think Trump will be a terrible or poor president shrank from 57 percent to 38 percent.
Even so, many Americans still don’t think Trump is well-qualified to be commander-in-chief, with that number going from 32 percent in October to 37 percent this month.
4. Civitas attacks Roy Cooper for hiring an aide it deems insufficiently patriotic.
Ken Eudy, who leads the Cooper transition, wrote on the EducationNC website earlier this year that “I have something in common with Colin Kaepernick. I don’t stand at sporting events, either. … I do stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. But I stay in my seat when thousands of fans stand and cheer men and women in the armed services. My silent protest draws some certain looks or sideways sneers.
Eudy, a former political journalist who served in the National Guard, continued that he thinks it “odd that, of all the categories of Americans that we honor, we honor warriors. I’m resolved that I won’t stand until we also honor the profession that will determine whether the United States remains free—school teachers.”
Cue the utterly predictable Civitas freakout: “We must ask of Roy Cooper: Does he share Eudy’s vision in attacking the members of our armed forces and veterans?”
5.A Durham charter school gave fifty-three attendees diplomas though they didn’t meet graduation requirements.
Leaders of Kestrel Heights School told state charter school officials Thursday that at least 53 students were given high school diplomas without meeting state graduation requirements.
Representatives from the Durham charter school said the former guidance counselor and former high school principal did not notice that the students didn’t have enough credits to graduate. Mark Tracy, Kestrel Heights’ executive director, said they’ve determined issues with at least 53 students over the past three years, and the problem could go further back.
6. John Edwards is selling his Chapel Hill home.
And it’ll only set you back $6.9 million.
Former senator and Democratic nominee for vice president John Edwards has listed his North Carolina estate on the market for $6.9 million.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the gated estate was built by Mr. Edwards and his late wife Elizabeth on about 102 acres near the Chapel Hill church where the two married.
Listing agent Gilliam Kittrell says the home is about 26,000 square feet and includes a full-size basketball court, an exercise room and a covered, heated swimming pool.
According to Kittrell, Edwards wants to move closer to his Raleigh law firm.
That’s it for today, everyone. Have a great weekend!